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House of Commons

Thursday 31 October 1991

The House met at twenty-five minutes pastEleven o'clock


[ Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Message to attend Her Majesty :

The House went ; and having returned :

The Sitting was suspended until half-past Two o'clock, and then resumed.




That all Members who are returned for two or more places in any part of the United Kingdom to make their Election for which of the places they will serve, within one week after it shall appear that there is no question upon the Return for that place ; and if anything shall come in question touching the Return or Election of any Member, he is to withdraw during the time the matter is in debate ; and that all Members returned upon double Returns do withdraw till their Returns are determined.


That no Peer of the Realm, except a Peer of Ireland, hath any right to give his vote in the Election of any Member to serve in Parliament.


That if it shall appear that any person hath been elected or returned a Member of this House, or endeavoured so to be, by Bribery or any other corrupt practices, this House will proceed with the utmost severity against all such persons as shall have been wilfully concerned in such Bribery or other corrupt practices.



That if it shall appear that any person hath been tampering with any Witness, in respect of his evidence to be given to this House, or any Committee thereof, or directly or indirectly hath endeavoured to deter or hinder any person from

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appearing or giving evidence the same is declared to be a high crime and misdemeanour ; and this House will proceed with the utmost severity against such offender.


That if it shall appear that any person hath given false evidence in any case before this House, or any Committee thereof, this House will proceed with the utmost severity against such offender. Metropolitan Police

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis do take care that during the Session of Parliament the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and open and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passage of Members to and from this House, and that no disorder be allowed in Westminster Hall, or in the passages leading to this House, during the Sitting of Parliament, and that there be no annoyance therein or thereabouts ; and that the Serjeant at Arms attending this House do communicate this Order to the Commissioner aforesaid.

2.33 pm

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch) : You may remember, Mr. Speaker, that last year I raised with you the problem of coaches parked in and around Parliament square, which makes it impossible for the Sessional Order to be complied with. You said that you would refer the matter to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. I have been in correspondence with him since then and he tells me that it would not be possible to give enforcement "high priority".

There appears to be a clear conflict between your discussions and the Sessional Order on one hand, and the priorities of the Metropolitan police on the other. Will you please ask the Commissioner to ensure that the Sessional Order is given the highest priority so that we can get to this place without being obstructed by coaches?

Mr. Speaker : I will certainly refer the matter again, although, as the hon. Member knows, there are difficulties about this.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : It has become the fashion to make a few comments about the Sessional Orders, which is very useful. I think that the House should

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take the matter seriously. I refer especially to the Sessional Order that deals with witnesses to the House. There have been occasions--

Mr. Speaker : Order. We have already gone past that order. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to deal with the order under discussion, I shall hear him.

Mr. Cryer : We have agreed to the order, Mr. Speaker, and I am pleased that we have : I said "Aye" along with the others. I want to refer to the third Sessional Order, Mr. Speaker, dealing with access--the last one to which you referred. I do not wish to oppose the previous order, although it is debatable--merely to refer to it in passing, to say that I hope that, when the Select Committee on Health takes evidence on the national health service trusts, no witnesses will be intimidated by threats of disciplinary action intended to prevent them from giving evidence.

Mr. Speaker rose--

Mr. Cryer : I now wish to go on to the order concerning access.

Mr. Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman is ingenious, but his remarks are miles wide of the order under discussion, which concerns the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. I think that we should move on.

Mr. Cryer : I was about to refer to the order dealing with access. As you, Sir, will know, in two successive years, I have raised the question of access for Members, which is most important, because it allows us to exercise our right to come here carrying information, messages and representations on behalf of the people whom we

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represent. By and large, their message is that we should get rid of this Government as quickly as we can and put a Labour Government in their place. In two successive years, I have pointed out that, although we take serious action on giving access to Members of Parliament, we take little action on, and treat with scant seriousness, the question of access to this place for disabled people. I have raised the question three times, and it is about time that something was done about it.

Mr. Speaker : That is a matter for the Administration Committee, not for discussion in connection with the order.

Question put and agreed to.

Votes and Proceedings


That the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by Mr. Speaker ; and that he do appoint the printing thereof ; and that no person but such as he shall appoint do presume to print the same.


A Bill for the more effectual preventing Clandestine Outlawries ; read the First time ; to be read a Second time.



That the Journal of this House, from the end of the last Session to the end of the present Session, with an index thereto, be printed. Ordered,

That the said Journal and Index be printed by the appointment and under the direction of Sir Clifford John Boulton, KCB, the Clerk of this House.


That the said Journal and Index be printed by such person as shall be licensed by Mr. Speaker, and that no other person do presume to print the same.

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Queen's Speech

Mr. Speaker : I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.

I shall direct that the terms of the Gracious Speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are available in the Vote Office. The Gracious Speech was as follows :

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I look forward to visiting Australia in February, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and Malta next May, France in June and Germany in October.

My Government attach the highest importance to maintaining our security. For nearly half a century NATO has formed the cornerstone of our defences. It will continue to be the principal focus, but the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the other welcome developments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe permit changes to NATO's strategy and will enable us to maintain our security with smaller forces. Nevertheless instability and other risks remain in Europe and elsewhere, and substantial and effective nuclear and conventional forces will be maintained.

The United Kingdom will work for balanced and verifiable arms control agreements including early ratification of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. Efforts will continue to control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to encourage greater international responsibility in the transfer of conventional weapons. The completion of multilateral negotiations on the abolition of chemical weapons will be pursued.

My Government will require full, unconditional compliance by Iraq with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including the disposal of its missiles and weapons of mass destruction. They will press for long-term peace in the Middle East, including a settlement of the Palestinian problem. They will continue their efforts to secure the release of hostages in the Middle East.

They will continue to work for a stronger, more effective United Nations.

My Government will, with our Community partners, pursue the successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Within the Community, they will continue to play a constructive role in the two Inter-Governmental Conferences on Political Union and Economic and Monetary Union ; and will work to complete the Single European Market, to promote budgetary discipline, and to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. They will prepare for the United Kingdom's Presidency of the Community beginning on 1st July 1992.

The United Kingdom will continue to develop our good relations with the Soviet Union and its republics, and to encourage their integration into the world economy ; and will work to help Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania re- establish themselves in the international community.

My Government will further encourage the development of democratic institutions and market economies in central and eastern Europe ; and pursue the completion of Association Agreements with Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. They hope for a peaceful settlement in

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Yugoslavia. They will contribute constructively to the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

My Government will encourage all sides in South Africa to pursue peaceful means of constructing a democratic, non-racial society. A substantial aid programme aimed at promoting sustainable economic and social progress and good government in developing countries will be maintained.

My Government will continue to support the Commonwealth. My Government will continue to administer Hong Kong in the interests of its people and to cooperate in implementing the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

My Government will continue their fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. They will vigorously pursue their policies to combat drug trafficking and misuse of drugs, nationally and internationally.

The United Kingdom will work for a successful United Nations Conference on Environment and Development next June.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the Public Service will be laid before you. My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government will pursue, within the framework of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, firm financial policies designed to reduce inflation further and maintain the conditions necessary for sustained growth. They will promote enterprise and training and improve the working of the economy. They will continue to prepare for the privatisation of the British Railways Board and the British Coal Corporation. They will maintain firm control of public spending with the aim of keeping its share of national income on a downward trend over time. My Government attach the highest priority to improving public services. They will implement the programme of reform in the White Paper on the Citizen's Charter, including bringing forward Charters for individual public services.

Legislation will be introduced to reinforce the regulation of privatised utilities.

Legislation will be introduced to provide for a new council tax, to establish a review of local government structure in England, and to enhance competitive tendering for local authority services. Action will be taken to improve quality and choice in education. Legislation will be introduced to reform funding of further education and sixth form colleges and to reform higher education in England and Wales, and to make information available about the performance of individual schools.

My Government will continue to develop policies to enhance the nation's health and to improve the effectiveness of the health and social services, and the social security system.

Work for the regeneration of our cities will continue.

A Bill will be introduced to enable applications for asylum in the United Kingdom to be dealt with quickly and effectively.

A Bill will be presented to create an offence of prison mutiny and to increase the maximum penalty for aiding prisoners to escape. Legislation will be introduced to revise health and safety arrangements for offshore installations.

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A Bill will be introduced to replace private legislation as the means for authorising transport development schemes.

A Bill will be introduced to provide for a Cardiff Bay Barrage. For Scotland, legislation will be introduced to reform further and higher education.

In Northern Ireland, my Government will resolutely seek to defeat terrorism through the even-handed and energetic enforcement of the law ; to promote political progress ; to strengthen the economy ; and to create equality of opportunity and equity of treatment for all sections of the community. They will maintain positive relations with the Republic of Ireland.

Legislation will be introduced to improve the supervision of charities.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

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Debate on the Address

[First Day]

Mr. Speaker : Before I call the proposer and the seconder of the motion on the Loyal Address, it may be for the convenience of hon. Members if I inform the House that the proposed subjects for debate for the rest of this week and for next week are as follows : Friday 1 November--foreign affairs and defence ; Monday 4 November--employment and education ; Tuesday 5 November--rights, freedoms and responsibilities ; Wednesday 6 November-- the council tax ; Thursday 7 November--the economy.

It may also be for the convenience of the House to know that, on Friday 8 November, there will be a debate on the environment, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

2.38 pm

Mr. Peter Walker (Worcester) : I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows : Most Gracious Sovereign,

We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.

I very much appreciate the honour of moving this motion, but I have one sadness--the fact that Alick Buchanan-Smith, a colleague and great personal friend of mine, a person who served this House, the Government and his constituency so well, is not with us today. He was a remarkable parliamentarian and, as a Minister, he was with me for many years. He loved his constituency, his country and the House of Commons, and I know that he will be sadly missed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. [Hon. Members :-- "Hear, hear."] There have been occasions over the past 30 years when the attendance in this House for my speeches has not been quite as large as it is today. Perhaps the reason for that is similar to a reason given to George Ward, my predecessor as Member for Worcester, who represented the constituency from 1945 to 1959. During his last election campaign, he arrived at Worcester guildhall for his eve-of-poll meeting. The hall was packed to capacity, with standing room only. Encouraged by that, he began his speech : "Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, this is my fifth campaign as your Conservative candidate. Never before at all the meetings that I have attended have I seen such enormous attendances as I have seen during this campaign and that is illustrated by this packed audience tonight." To which a voice from the back of the guildhall shouted, "We've come to say good-bye."

It was in 1945, as a 13-year-old schoolboy witnessing the general election campaign, that I first had aspirations to become a Member of this House. I recognised at school that I had the talent to become a politician when, at the end of a particularly bad term, the headmaster wrote on my report, "One cannot help but be quite captivated by him, provided one gives him no work to do." At the same school I also recognised the importance of freedom of choice, when I approached what was then the equivalent of O-levels. It was suggested that, among other subjects, I should take Latin. There was no possibility of

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my passing Latin. On the afternoon of the Latin exam, a very good film was being shown at the neighbouring cinema to my school. I went to the cinema considering that that would be of more benefit than taking a Latin exam that I could not pass. I was caught and summoned to the Latin master, who said to me, "Walker, you didn't turn up for the Latin exam." To which I replied, "No, sir." He said, "Walker, I've now known you for four years, and this is the first intelligent thing that you have done."

I fought my first general election campaign in 1955, with eagerness and enthusiasm. In 1961, I was fortunate enough to win a by-election in the constituency of Worcester. After that by-election, I remember taking my place in this House and walking nervously towards Mr. Speaker. To my surprise, voices from the Labour Benches shouted, "Put him on the Scottish Grand Committee." That was a form of punishment reserved for English Tory Members at the time--[ Hon. Members :-- "It still is."] Little did I realise that I would end my ministerial career by spending much of my time on the Welsh Grand Committee. It was a great privilege to become the Member for Worcester. I am very proud of my constituency, which has immense quality. It is a microcosm of England. It has the old and the new, and it has industry and agriculture. It is known as the "faithful city"-- [Interruption.] As Opposition Front Bench spokesmen are murmuring, I will say that it has a Labour council ; that has been the reason for my increasing majority. Worcester's motto is the faithful city because we were involved in certain civil wars way back.

Shortly after I became the Member for Worcester, the Queen Mother visited my constituency. Over the entrance to our guildhall we have an effigy of the head of Cromwell, pinned back by his ears by two large nails. As I pointed to it, I said to the Queen Mother, "You see, Ma'am, how badly they treat parliamentarians in this constituency," to which she swiftly replied, "Ah, yes, Mr. Walker, but they are very good to royalists."

It has been a faithful city, and I am glad to say that, throughout this century, it has been very faithful to the Conservative party. Indeed, I recall the experiences of the person who was Prime Minister when I first came into this House--Mr. Harold Macmillan. I remember how he had fought Stockton-on-Tees six times. He said how on three occasions he won but on three occasions he lost. He said in his own inimitable way, "On the three occasions that I lost, I reflected upon the stupidity of an electoral system whereby everybody, no matter how ill educated, how ignorant, or even how evil, was able to vote. On the three occasions I won, I reflected upon the inherent good sense of the British people." So, Sir, I have been able to reflect on the inherent good sense of the people of Worcester over the years I have been privileged to be the Member for that constituency.

We have, of course, many famous products. We produce sauce for the benefit of tomato juice throughout the world. We have produced, over several centuries, some of the finest porcelain the world has ever seen. I am delighted to say that both previous Prime Ministers under whom I served are avid and enthusiastic collectors of that porcelain. The present Prime Minister, if he has not already started his career of collecting Royal Worcester porcelain, will be very welcome if he visits the Royal Porcelain Worcester works. Nearby is the county cricket

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ground. I can think of no better, happier or more beautiful place for watching his county side being defeated than the Worcestershire county cricket ground.

It is also a constituency which inspired Elgar to his greatest music. It is a constituency which possesses the oldest newspaper in Europe. Those were the days, when it started several hundred years ago, when sensationalism was not the habit of the press. Indeed, one will find the announcement about the death of Queen Anne in the right-hand bottom column of page 3 of the newspaper.

I have had the immense privilege of serving the people of Worcester over the past 30 years. In that capacity, I particularly welcome the Queen's Speech today. Looking at the passages in the Queen's Speech that refer to matters abroad, I reflect upon remarks made to me when I was a very young person, eager to enter politics, by the father of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). Indeed, I owe a great deal to Leo Amery for his wisdom, advice and the views that he expressed. He said to me in, I suppose, 1947 or 1948 : "If you enter politics, you will find that in your lifetime the world will become a very small place. Matters taking place in one part of the world will immediately affect the world as a whole." Certainly in this Parliament we have seen that happen.

The Queen's Speech refers to events in the Soviet Union, in eastern Europe and in South Africa. For all hon. Members, our most remarkable experience over the past few years was the sight of the transformation of two regimes, both in their different ways hostile to democracy and in favour of diminishing freedom for large numbers of people. Suddenly, two people--Mr. Gorbachev and President de Klerk--have, in such a short time, transformed the attitudes of those countries. Whatever problems they have, and whatever disasters in some spheres affect those countries, I believe that history will judge them as two remarkable and courageous men.

As an observer of that scene, I think that, when history is accurately written, there will be great tribute to the manner in which help, encouragement and advice of considerable quality were given and to the mobilising of the western world to accept that change was taking place. Great credit for that goes to my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher).

As I have said, we have seen enormous changes, but I advise my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench and all hon. Members who will continue to serve in Parliament in the coming years that the changes that have taken place in those countries in the past few years could well be repeated on an enormous scale in other countries.

The Queen's Speech refers to the relationship between China and Hong Kong. I strongly predict that the changes that have come about in the Soviet Union are likely to come to China in a different form but to the same degree in the years that lie ahead. There will be a change of leadership in China. Hong Kong has transformed the regions surrounding it in the past five or six years. If the same impact was made on the whole of China after 1997, there would be growth economies and expansion on a scale never before seen. That will pose considerable challenges to all politicians--whatever party is in power.

The Queen's Speech is important not only for the way in which it deals with matters abroad, but also for its emphasis on matters at home. I welcome especially its emphasis on education. More than anything else, the key to equality of opportunity is the availability of a

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